TBT: Throwback Thursday...Tables--Part 1
So I've been wanting to feature some older projects and having a throwback Thursday seems to be like a really great way to show some of my older stuff (and the lessons learned!) without having to add even more projects onto my plate right now! This week, I wanna talk about tables!
When we first moved into our house, we somehow had almost enough furniture to fill it even though we were coming from a 2BR apartment. The one thing we didn't seem to have enough of was coffee tables and side tables. Now I don't know if other people have this problem, but for some reason, when I look online for furniture, what I like always seems to be the MOST expensive thing out of all the things. I've tried to convince myself that this must mean that I have good taste. What it really probably means is that I'm too bougie for my own good (and the good of my wallet). Anyway, after being super disappointed with the selection of tables at my price point, I decided that I could just make some tables, and save myself some money.
I totally understand that my time is actually worth something, so it's not like doing all the work comes at a lower cost. I also know that on weekends when I'm working on crafts or destroying parts of the house, the alternative would most likely be binge watching trashy reality TV from the comfort of my couch, so I'm with forcing myself to actually be productive.
Back to the tables! I needed a coffee table and an accent table for a corner. For both of these, I used live edge wood slabs that I purchased at Community Forklift - a reuse/architectural salvage store in town. They keep a pretty decent stock of live edge wood from a variety of species. For my tables, I selected a piece of honey locust and a walnut board. Online I'd seen a lot of waterfall live edge tables (they were all sooooo expensive!), so that was the look I wanted to go for. Had I ever made a table? NOPE. But you know what? Between watching a lot of youtube videos, trying to think through any technique questions I could possibly think of, and reading a lot of woodworking message boards, I managed to get pretty confident that I could do it. I think a lot of people don't try craft projects because they're afraid of another pinterest fail, but if you really prepare and follow guidance, it usually isn't so bad!
The boards I got were both relatively cheap... I can't remember what I paid, but in the case of the walnut it was because it had a few cracks and the honey locust had some wormholes in the area around the bark. I knew I could work around both of these issues for my purposes so I went ahead and bought them.
One thing I saw a lot when I was doing research online was that just because you want a live edge piece of furniture, that does NOT mean you want any bark on the slab. I've seen tons of pictures of people who did leave the bark on. There are a lot of reasons why you want to remove it, though. 1) If you leave it on, you have to somehow seal it (resin is not cheap at ALL), and eventually it's still probably going to chip off and be messy and busted looking; 2) it's probably got dead bugs all up in it; 3) depending on your slab, the wood just inside the layer of bark may have some rot and in a lot of cases has little worm holes. You know what I know I don't like? Busted buggy furniture.
So for both pieces, I peeled all the bark and cleaned up the boards edges until I got to wood that was structurally sound. Did I lose quite a bit of wood? Yes. Do the tables look better for it? Also yes.
In terms of constructing the waterfall edges, it was pretty simple? I knew I wanted to use hairpin legs on the tables so I decided on the table height and then measured my board length. When you cut the waterfall off, you do so with a 45 degree mitre cut and you want the inside length of the board to match your table leg length. For the table top, I did another 45 degree cut so that when you put the pieces together it was like the corner of a picture frame. I then used metal L brackets and glue to secure the two pieces together and let it dry. After it was dry I used a mixture of sawdust (from cleaning up the board) and wood glue to fill all the gaps in the waterfall.
Pro Tip: Learn from my mistakes! If you're using a filler on an inside corner and you're going to have to sand it, use painters tape to protect the wood around the gap instead of experiencing the annoyance of trying to get hardened goop out of an inside corner without damaging your work.
After I got all the gaps filled I did a LOT of sanding to get the table really smooth. I usually sand up to 220 grit, wipe with a damp cloth to raise the grain, and lightly sand that back down again. Then I used some Danish oil to finish the wood, and attached the hairpin legs that I got on Etsy. I'm pretty proud of the results!
I'm really happy with how these tables turned out! The walnut had a flat cut that didn't look very organic from how it was cut down, but it actually makes it a great table for the corner we put it in. Using that flat edge against a wall in the corner helps to really show the waterfall. It's kinda like how you stand at an angle in pictures when you wanna look your best. It just looks good!
Stay tuned for Coffee Tables Part 2!